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Start Publishing: 03-20-2017
Managing Your Competition

  

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How To Sell Against Your Competition and Win!

By Paul DiModica & Gerhard Vierthaler

Every successful technology company has a sales and marketing system - a defined process on how they handle direct and indirect competitors. They either ignore them, negatively sell against them through verbal criticism, or poo-poo them as non-competitors or non-players.

But does that really work? 
Does that make competitors go away?

It's never what you sell - it's who you sell against. Think about it -would we invest in sales and marketing if prospects would just call our office and our team would take the orders over the phone. 

No revelation here, we all have competition. Big IT companies worry about small boutique players with low overhead. Small companies worry about big companies with national marketing budgets and big brand-name references. Start-ups worry about everybody.

Stop being worried about competition so much -- they're probably worrying about you too.

Just accept that competitive pressure is just another objection management variable that you need to control as a technology and professional service salesperson.

Psychological pressure and fear of competition in a deal makes IT salespeople drop their price, accelerate their sales cycle (before the decision maker is ready) and bring in sales managers when they are not needed.

Your competition can be managed a lot easier than you may think.

When dealing with IT competition, always think offensively rather than defensively. Usually, IT salespeople react to competition instead of preparing for it. Going forward, always assume there is competition, then position your firm uniquely enough to put other players are in a defensive position.

Selling technology is a premeditated sport! If you prepare for the big game, you can win! 

Just imagine if you could vastly differentiate and stand out when selling technology or professional services in a highly competitive marketplace and attract more sales... without worrying about your competitors.

One way to sell against direct competitors is to use strategic language to describe them during the sales and marketing process. How you react and respond to competitive pressure during your sales cycle sends subliminal messages of your offerings or weaknesses to your buyer. How you respond to specific competitor comparisons sends out confidence messages to your prospects as they try to move to a short list of potential vendors based on their "education". Proactively manage your competitors so they don't control your sales cycle by manipulating the buyer's perception of you.

You must always manage every step of your sales process. Hoping competition doesn't come up is not a strategy.
 
Here are 3 competitive tips you can use right now:
  1. Never directly sell negatively. Although negative selling does work because it communicates variables about competitors to prospects (both true and untrue) that the buyer may not know, it is unprofessional.
  2. Always box your competitors into a category using a verbal description and then talk directly about the potential consequences of buying from this category (i.e., the competitor is a national firm, a local firm, VAR, etc.).
  3. When describing your competitors to your prospects, pick unusual terms and words that create visual analogies in the brain of the buyer. For example, tell your prospect that the competitor is "like a retailer selling shoes who is always changing their inventory (describes a VAR)," or "They are bus people -- they bus in the "A" team to sell you and then bus in the "B" team to deliver their technology (a national firm selling locally).
"I Worry Too Much About Competition" IT Sales Test

Question 1
Of all the deals I lost during the last 12 months, I told my sales manager that the reason we lost was because of competition more than 50% of the time. ____Yes ____No

Question 2 
When I have found out there was competition in my deals, I have said something negative to my prospects about the other vendors (even in a nice way) at least 25% of the time. (Be honest)  ____Yes ____No

Question 3 
When a prospect from my sales forecast starts talking about other vendors in the deal having better functionally, service delivery or a lower price, one of the first things I do is discuss with my management team about cutting the price. ____Yes ____No

Question 4 
Of all the deals that I have closed during the last eighteen months, more than 50% were based on price concessions. ____Yes ____No

Question 5 
I have studied the top ten competitors in my market and business vertical and know how to position my firm in an offensive mode against each one. ____Yes ____No

Answers
1-No; 2-No; 3-No; 4-No; 5-Yes

Scoring
Give yourself 20% for each matching answer. Did you pass?If you had a low score, more than likely, you are ineffective in managing your marketing and sales process.

Competition is part of the technology marketing and sales game -- accept it and manage it.

"The purpose of competition is not to beat someone down, but to bring out the best in every player." --Amos Alonzo Stagg 

To your success!

Gerhard Vierthaler
Value Strategy Group
907.222.2703
 
  Gerhard Vierthaler, CEO
 
 As CEO As CEO of the Value Strategy Group, Gerhard Vierthaler works with clients worldwide in complex B2B selling environments, helping organizations focus on pain management, value creation and customer outcomes to maximize growth. 

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